Antitrust Guidance for the ATA e-Business Program

Antitrust laws determine the way in which companies can act together in business activities, such as meetings of the ATA e-Business Program. These laws are intended to promote competition. Many countries in addition to the United States have and enforce such laws. You should follow the guidance described below at every meeting that you attend, whether or not it is held in the United States and whether or not it is an ATA e-Business Program sponsored meeting. The basic principle of the antitrust laws is that groups of companies cannot act together to use their economic power to limit or otherwise harm competition. This means that what can be done individually by a firm could be unlawful if done collectively by a group of firms. Something that may seem to make “good business sense” when done by an individual company can injure competition when done collectively or in coordination by a group of companies and therefore may be prohibited under the antitrust laws. This is especially so when the collective or coordinated action involves competitors. Violation of the antitrust laws does not require a formal or written agreement among companies. Violation of the antitrust laws can result in civil or criminal penalties, or both. These penalties can be severe and can be imposed on companies or individuals, or both. The ATA e-Business Program is not exempt from the antitrust laws. Antitrust immunity that the Department of Transportation may have given to an airline alliance does not cover airline industry activities. Because of these antitrust law considerations, we do not discuss, reach agreements or exchange information about such subjects as: 

  • Price- or service-related terms—Passenger fares; cargo rates; service fees (including a carrier’s ancillary fees); discounts; credit terms; warranty terms; refund policies; claims policies; limitations of liability; travel agents’ commissions; frequent flyer program policies; methods of recouping costs, taxes or fees (including fuel surcharges, or ticket or waybill surcharges to recoup government taxes or fees); service terms; or contract of carriage terms
  • Division or allocation of markets or customers—Limiting the geographic availability of a service or product, dividing up the territory in which a service or product will be provided, or dividing up customers
  • Boycotts or blacklists—Limiting or refusing to do business with a customer, group of customers or category of customers, or a supplier, group of suppliers or category of suppliers
  • Requiring suppliers to use certain standards or specifications; or agreeing on which suppliers to use—For example, requiring suppliers to use an ATA e-Business Program specification or the specification of another organization, or specifying which suppliers to use
  • Competitively sensitive internal information such as pricing, yield or capacity data, or marketing or service plans
  • Contract bids or requests for proposals—Whether involving the government or a private entity

If you are uncomfortable about discussing or acting on a matter because you believe that it is competitively sensitive, you should immediately say so and seek the advice of legal counsel before further discussing or acting on it.

March 16, 2012